Anyone hear about this Radio Contest?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jennifer Strange complained on-air Friday that she had a headache and felt lightheaded, but offered to drink even more water if hosts of KDND's "Morning Rave" wanted her to.
The haunting exchange that preceded her death several hours later is captured in a recording of the show obtained by the Sacramento Bee.
The 4-hour-40-minute recording indicates that the show's hosts knew of the dangers of water intoxication — even discussing a case two years ago in which a student at California State University-Chico died after drinking too much water during a fraternity hazing.
"Maybe we should have researched this," one of the DJs is heard saying before the contest started. "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competitors had to drink as much water as they could without going to the bathroom for a Nintendo game system.
In a groggy conversation with a co-host of the "Morning Rave," Strange, 28, said after dropping out of the contest that her head hurt, but that "they keep telling me though that it's the water, that it will tell my head to hurt and then it will make me puke."
"Who told you that, the intern?" a host asked Strange.
"Yeah," she replied. "It hurts, but makes you feel lightheaded."
Strange and the contest's winner were escorted from a kitchen inside the station and into a studio, where one host said Strange's stomach was so large she looked "three months' pregnant." A host then asked Strange if she wanted to lie down.
"I could probably drink more if you guys could pick me up," Strange told the hosts. "Do you want me to? What can I get?"
Strange finished as the runner-up to another woman. In exchange for dropping out, Strange received two tickets to Friday night's Justin Timberlake concert at Arco Arena. She was found dead Friday afternoon.
Nearly 40 minutes before kicking off the contest, the "Morning Rave" hosts discussed the dangers of water poisoning. One DJ mentioned he had once drunk two gallons of water.
"Can't you get water poisoning and, like, die?" asked another host.
"Your body is 98 percent water," a co-host responded. "Why can't you take in as much water as you want?"
Someone in the background was heard asking about "that poor kid in college," apparently referring to Matthew Carrington, who died in 2005 after an all-night fraternity hazing.
"That's what I was thinking," a host responded.
"Yeah, well, he was doing other things," someone else said.
About two hours into the contest, a woman who identified herself as Eva called the show. She warned the hosts that "those people that are drinking all that water can get sick and possibly die from water intoxication."
One host replied that "we're aware of that." Another said the contestants had signed releases, "so we're not responsible."
"And if they get to the point where they have to throw up, then they're going to throw up and they're out of the contest before they die, so that's good, right?" one host said. One of the hosts then asked a DJ stationed in the kitchen with the contestants, "Is anybody dying in there?"
"We got a guy who's just about to die," he said.
"Make sure he signs the release," the host replied.
Contestants were given 8-ounce bottles of water to drink in two minutes. Within 10 minutes, the contestants drank again. After eight rounds, contestants drank 16-ounce bottles. During each round, contestants can be heard on the recording laughing and talking loudly. One of the hosts described the scene in the room as "jovial," leading the group that started with 20 contestants in toasts each time they drank another bottle.
Contestant Jennifer Winsor said Strange was stoic when others complained of having to go to the bathroom. "She was kind of quiet and stood back," Winsor said. "She was very self-assured and exuded confidence."
Winsor said she drank nine of the 16-ounce bottles and saw Strange drink a 10th — a total of 224 ounces of water, or nearly two gallons. She said she was bothered to learn that DJs knew the contest might be hazardous.
Strange told friends she had entered the contest to win a new Nintendo Wii video-gaming system for her children.
After Strange dropped out of the contest about 9:30 a.m. and left the studio, she called a co-worker saying she had changed her plan to go into work at Radiological Associates. She cried, and said she had a headache and felt dizzy. Another co-worker asked Strange's mother to check on her.
Strange's mother found her dead in her Rancho Cordova home around 2 p.m.